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What You Need to Know About Twitch’s Ad Platform

8 MINUTE READ | June 20, 2018

What You Need to Know About Twitch’s Ad Platform

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Blake Lucas

Blake Lucas has written this article. More details coming soon.

If you haven’t heard of Twitch, you’re already behind. The multi-million viewer-per-day platform is by far the most prominent online location for livestreamers to share their screens and stories at no cost to the viewer. Launched in 2011, the platform quickly gained traction during its first few years and was soon bought by Amazon in 2014 for $970 million. Yep, you read that right. $970 million and that was before Drake broke the Internet by playing Fornite with Ninja.

Suggested Reading: The Art of Going Viral

Twitch is the platform of choice for live streaming, gamers, and esports fans to come together and watch the action unfold at tournaments, esports league games, and during casual play. So much so that the platform falls behind only Netflix, Google, and Apple in the percentage of overall peak internet traffic produced by a company’s network – video game-related or otherwise. With 15+ million daily active users and users averaging 100+ minutes on the platform, brands will be hard-pressed to find another audience that matches Twitch’s level of engagement.

Twitch Audience Insights

via Twitch Audience Insights

One of the best aspects of Twitch is the real-time interaction between broadcasters (streamers) and their viewers. With Twitch Chat and Discord (popular messaging app used by gamers), fans engage in a live discussion with one another during the stream; building a strong sense of community around games, livestreamers, and the larger fan base. This sense of community can be used to brand’s advantage because if advertisers appeal to the community, they can easily be the talk of the town across Twitch and social users conversing about gaming on other platforms.

For a free-to-use entertainment platform, there’s an unbelievable amount of money that flows through Twitch – even before advertisers get involved. Viewers can support their favorite streamers through features such as paid subscriptions to certain streamers and the ability to buy, earn, and send “Bits”. Subscribers pay a certain amount each month (usually $5, $10, or $15) to gain certain benefits – such as no ads or custom emotes – while also financially supporting their favorite streamers. Bits are a sort of half currency/half communication virtual item that is described by Twitch as “fun, animated emotes” that are used to celebrate “moments you love with the community right in chat and similar to subscribing – helps support Partners and Affiliates.”

To give you an idea, $1.40 buys you 100 Bits with the ability to buy as many as 25,000 Bits in one fell swoop for the low, low, price of $308. These features are the primary source of income for a large number of influencers that populate this bizarrely popular website.

Twitch Influencers are described as “[Twitch’s] top 5% broadcasters whose passion for gaming and electric personalities inspire a large, loyal fan base of viewers.” These broadcasters hold a powerful online presence, consistently producing viewer and click traffic statistics that put “traditional” celebrities to shame for one main reason: their entire presence is online.

The online influence of a Twitch Influencer has grown significantly due to esports, competitive video gaming and the accessibility of the stars by bleeding into other channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. In fact, Bleacher Report recently tweeted a statistic that perhaps best sums up the modern power of video games and Twitch in one image:

With a reported 15+ million active daily users glued to a screen, 2.2 million content creators, and over 23 billion minutes of video viewed each month, you can see why this space might be attractive to advertisers. Getting involved with Twitch is similar to other media buys on platforms with a laundry list of options and capabilities.

Media Opportunities via digital ad placements,

  • Cross Screen Video

  • OOT Devices

  • HPTO & First Impression Takeovers

Display Media

  • Sure Stream – guarantees visibility & cuts through Ad Blockers

  • Watch & Earn Engagement Ad Unit

  • Twitch + Audience Extension Products

Experiential Opportunities through Event Activations

  • Esports Team & League sponsorships

  • Take over an event with on-the-ground brand experiences coupled with digital ad placements for the fans at home.

Premium content through custom and curated experiences

  • Custom digital tournaments

  • “Twitch Presents” Series

Although technology, gaming, and consumer electronics brands lead in their investments into the Twitch scene (endemic brands), non-endemic brands are also making their mark by investing in Twitch advertising as well. Among the most well-known brands that have already capitalized on the popularity and unique advertising opportunity of Twitch are Tyson, Old Spice, Amazon Fresh, and other CPG-related brands.

Nonendemic (non-tech & gaming related) brands like Tyson typically take a more traditional approach to advertise on the platform; making use of the “Homepage Takeover” ad product and other digital ad placement options offered by Twitch.

Image via AdWeek

Because the audience is young, highly engaged, and loyal brands that strategically advertise and genuinely immerse their brand narrative to ‘get into the game’ flourish on the platform. One example is Old Spice, who uses a more unique approach to their utilization of the Twitch platform. In 2015, Old Spice dropped a man in the middle of the woods and allowed Twitch viewers to “control” him from their screens.

The process involved using Twitch chat (Twitch’s chat feature) to send commands to the man, a concept inspired by an event known as “Twitch Plays Pokemon.” The Pokemon event went viral after a Twitch creator managed to link typed commands to the controls of a Pokemon game, leading to thousands of players simultaneously attempting to control a single game – and inevitably leading to lots of running in circles for the poor in-game avatar.

Fun Fact: The channel TwitchPlaysPokemon is running to this day and now has a plethora of new features, including betting, a system for bidding on which songs play during the livestream, and a token currency system.

This Old Spice campaign was also replicated by the company just last year with the added twist of building a giant robotic squid that would respond to collective Twitch commands after being placed in several unique and potentially comedic scenarios (meeting the parents, eating pizza, driver’s ed, etc.).

These instances of a custom, branded experience highlight one of the most important aspects of advertising on Twitch – knowing your audience – and it’s not as simple as you might think. A study commissioned by Twitch and conducted by Lifecourse Associates states, “Stereotypes of gamers have been slow to catch up with this new reality. In many cases, we still see gamers portrayed as glassy-eyed addicts or isolated automatons. [But,] given how pervasive a pastime gaming has become, it should seem obvious that these negative characterizations aren’t true. And in fact, they’re completely at odds with who gamers are.”

Another set of stats that are sure to bolster any advertiser’s interest is the surprising openness and optimism that Twitch users respond to advertising with. “82% of Twitch users say sponsorships are good for the gaming industry. 78% of Twitch users want to see more charity in gaming. 80% of Twitch users are open to brands sponsoring a specific gamer or team.”

These figures are proudly displayed on Twitch’s Advertisers page, and there are plenty of real-world examples to support them. As for gaming sponsorships, a Google search for the term “Twitch influencer” doesn’t populate links to Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, the livestreamer who played Fortnite with Drake, or Jaryd Lazar also known as Jaryd “Summit1G” Lazar, but a paid advertisement for a company that can put you in touch with a video game influencer that your brand can sponsor.

In regards to gamers and charity work, look no further than St. Jude PLAY LIVE, the stream-for-charitable-donations campaign that was recently featured on Twitch’s homepage. Wondering about what brands would be interested in sponsoring a player or team? Ask Alienware, Monster Energy, or Twitch themselves about their partnership with the notoriously popular eSports team, Team Liquid.

Twitch is a rapidly growing platform whose popularity is consistently fueled by the explosive popularity of new games as they are released (such as Fortnite or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds).

Twitch Homepage Screenshot

Just look at how many viewers are watching Fortnite on a workday afternoon.

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The platform allows for the direct support of content creators in addition to plenty of controls that enables these creators – and to a lesser extent, viewers – to customize their Twitch experience to match their needs and preferences. With Amazon’s funds backing the platform and no end to innovation in sight, Twitch has given new life to video games and become the world’s central headquarters for live-streaming entertainment. So what are you waiting for? Connect with Twitch and get in the game!

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